Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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90 Reviews

  • Reviewed January 2013
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    This was an excellent trip! A good mix between the busy city of Marrakesh and the stunning scenery of the Atlas mountains. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

     Staying at the gite for four nights was the highlight of the trip for me. We were able to walk each day from the door, it was a great opportunity to see/experience some of the village life, at night the view of the stars from the roof terrace was amazing and the food provided for us was fantastic - a hot tagine waiting for us mid-way through a 10 hour hike was much appreciated! Of course I enjoyed the walks too and I met some great people who I hope to stay in touch with. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader, Hassan, was very knowledgeable and patient and dealt well with the demands of a mixed ability group. I also think he has a great sense of humour....

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes - they do say to take thermals/warm clothes in winter on this trip and they will come in useful for cool nights in the gite!Don't worry about changing money - you can do this easily at the airport in Marrakesh on arrival. Don't bother with the water purification tablets - we were advised to drink/use bottled water and this was easily available and very cheap (but admittedly there are no facilities for recycling the empty bottles).  

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A great trip and a fantastic way to meet new people who have a common interest. Happy memories....
  • Reviewed January 2013
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    This was my first ever organised walking trip and I was quite nervous at the thought of spending a whole week in the company of people I had never met, but it turned out to be rather fun - despite the extremely cold gite.  While I understand that it is difficult to gauge the mixed abilities of such large groups, I feel that, with the exception of the last day, the walks are a little too short and we spent quite an amount of time hanging around the freezing cold gite.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The first time our guide lit the small gas heater in our freezing cold gite is firmly embedded in my memory.  Until then, I thought I was going to die from the cold!The 32 km walk to and from the lake on the last day was pretty special too. On the first day, I opted out of the lunch venue that our city guide took us to, as I thought the food looked rather bland - as did the restaurant. I found THE MOST AMAZING place to eat in the following place www.lesjardinsdelakoutoubia.com   Incredible roof terrace, amazing views, fabulous food and brilliant service, for not much more than the price of the place I had opted out of. I highly recommend it.  I spent New Year's eve there too and it was truly amazing. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was very competent and very patient indeed. He had his work cut out pacing the walks to suit a very mixed ability group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are travelling in Dec/Jan ditch the T-shirts and take thermals and fleeces. Consider packing a hot-water bottle. Gloves and a wooly hat are a must. Also consider bringing some savoury snacks for munching on. You might also wish to pack a flask as the gite staff will fill it with boiling water if you wish to have a hot drink on the walks.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The accommodation in Marrakech is ok. Nothing more than that. I had already visited Marrakech before, so I was not too bothered at staying so far out of town. Had this been my first (or only) visit, I would have preferred to stay in a riad within the Medina.
  • Reviewed January 2013
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    This was a really excellent and well organised trips. It was a very good mix between the busy streets of Marrakech and the 4 days walking in the Atlas Mountains.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I really enjoyed the guided walks through the mountains, the scenery was beautiful. I also met some really great people on the trip, many of whom I intend to keep in contact with.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very friendly and really keen to accomodate everyone

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you have any concerns about travelling alone, join an exodus trip.......I met some great people!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'm looking forward to booking my next trip
  • Reviewed January 2013
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    A good introduction to Morocco.  Blessed by fantastic weather the trip was a great (short) escape from the doom and gloom of the UK.  Marrakech was busy, vibrant and fun; the slower pace of life in the mountains was a complete contrast.  Not many spending opportunities and no-one seemed to miss the typical UK Christmas excess.  Hot showers at the gite and freshly cooked delicious food.  Even became accustomed to the morning porridge and herb teas.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many.  Negotiating the souks - still not sure how I managed to find my way out!  The amazing mosaics on the walls and floors of the kasbahs and palaces.  Haggling over the price of a taxi journey to save maybe 50p!  Walking in the mountains.  The delicious al fresco lunches prepared and delivered by one man on his donkey on two of the walking days.  Spotting birds I'd never seen before (it helped that there was a great great birder on the trip - thankyou Joe!).  Eating Christmas cake on the terrace as the sun went down (brought by one of the group to share).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hassan wonderful.  He was very welcoming and friendly from the moment he met us all at the airport.  As well as guiding us on the walks he worked hard in the gite, serving us meals, arranging a heater and in lots of subtle ways was genuinely kind and helpful throughout the trip.  He made sure that everyone was catered for.However, the guide in Marrakesh (Mohammed) was not so impressive.  There was no "orientation" included as part of the guided tour. Very disappointing.  We were taken to two retail emporiums - one a pharmacy were we were given a hard sell demonstration of various lotions and potions - the other a carpet place where they trapped a number of the group and tried to sell their wares.  I can only assume that these were the places that offered the best commission to the guide.  

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There isn't that much walking - only 2.5 days of walking in the mountains plus an hour up to the gite and back again on the first and last days.  A lot of spare time in Marrakesh, but that may have been down to the flight times.  Some of the group managed to fit in a massage and hammam on return to Marrakesh.  Haggle everywhere.  Cold in the gite at night.  We saw very little of the community; a few people working in the fields and children playing on their way back from school.  Go for tea at the Berber house.  It gives you the opportunity to see into a typical yard and understand a little of what goes on behind the locked doors and gates.  Bonus - we sampled some delicious cakes and fresh local nuts.Take earplugs. Go soon.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Check the website for suggestions and take some gifts for the village.  Good all round trip but I've only given 4 stars mainly because of the disappointing guided tour of Marrakesh and the last night in the hotel.  I had a cold noisy room over-looking a busy side street - and I think near a night club.  Noise didn't cease until about 4am. Hard to choose which trip to do but effortless to book once decided.  Thank you.
  • Reviewed January 2013
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    It was our first Exodus trip and we were very impressed with the organsation of the holiday, particularly when we were in Morocco.  We were interested in the trekking part of the holiday in the Atlas Mountains but found the time at the beginning and end of the holiday in Marrakech to be enjoyable.The highlight for me was really the contrast between the city and country. It felt as though we had been away much longer than one week.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Staying in the village in the mountains gave us a view of life that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. The remoteness of the village and the lack of motor transport.Arriving at the dinner site on the treks, meeting up with the cook and donkey and having a lunch cooked for you in the middle of nowhere.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was always very conscious of our safety and the ability of the group members, which meant we had to turn back on one of the day walks because of deteriorating weather conditions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    On the guided tour of Marrakech we were taken to a pharmacy where we were really expected to buy some products and at the end of the tour we were taken inside a restaurant to a table which had already been laid for us. We were obviously expected to have lunch there but it certainly wasn't the best quality or the best value for money. I think you would be better to make your own arrangements.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The accomodation in the hostel was better than we were expecting, as we ended up with a room for two, with mattresses, electricity and a lock on the door. Luxury!It would have been good to be able to meet with some of the villagers to find out more about their lives. We did have tea in a Berber house but it was a bit stilted.
  • Reviewed January 2013
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    I've given the trip 4 stars because experiencing the Atlas mountains was so magnificent. We were well looked after in the gite and our guide - Hassan - was excellent. However, the Marrakech segment of the trip leaves a lot to be desired and the actual experience in the mountains felt much more commercial than I would have expected from the way it was sold to me on your website. I'm explaining all this below.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The 10 hour 32 kms walk on our last full day in the High Atlas. It was difficult but very rewarding, we were extremely lucky with the weather for the full trip and the ruggedness of the mountains is just something else. The colours were beautiful. The cook from our gite came all the way with his mule to the semi-frozen lake where we had our break and cooked lunch for us there that was nutritious and tasty as always. I also enjoyed the 4-hour walk on our second day, it was reasonably hard and the views on the top were breathtaking.What wasn't so inspiring though was the fact that the first walk (the 7-hour one) felt like hiking on someone's farm. The valleys are reasonably built up by having several villages neighbouring each other, the hills are used for farming sheep or chopping wood. Our first walk was interrupted considerably by dogs who were guarding the various sheel pens. Even if there had been some wildlife, they would have been scared away by the dogs. The walk itself is reasonably strenuous and challenging, the mountains are gorgeous but it feels like being a rambler on someone's farm rather than being out on an adventure.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hassan is a very warm, genuine and knowledgeable group leader. Not once did he try to limit our options just to make his own life easier. He is very patient and he is without a doubt a very good man.I didn't think much of our guide in Marrakech though, he showed us a couple of sites and took us to shops where he gets his commission. He didn't give us any kind of orientation so we were a bit lost first when our free time came.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take into consideration the amount of time spent in Marrakech, there isn't that much to look at. A lot of historic sites were either destroyed by succeeding dynasties over the centuries or didn't survive due to poor building practices.We arrived in Marrakech on Sunday and had a free evening, had a full day there on Monday with the afternoon/evening free again after being guided around in the morning a bit. Then we travelled the full morning on Tuesday and arrived in the mountains in the afternoon, again with a lot of spare time on our hands. We didn't start the actual hiking until Wednesday.I think it's quite difficult to guage from the field notes the amount of time you need to kill until you can get your hiking boots on properly. It would have been better if we had been able to leave Marrakech Monday afternoon and start hiking on Tuesday. It felt like we were kept waiting for the bit that we all booked the holiday for in the first place.Beware of the hotel you get booked in in Marrakech too, Hotel Oudaya is awful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Out of choice, I would avoid the hotel in Marrakech (Hotel Oudaya) next time. It was fine during our first 2 nights when we stayed in the better built part but when we returned from the mountains, we were given rooms in the noisier, less well constructed part we had a lot of trouble sleeping. The rooms weren't ready when we arrived mid-day but we weren't told this at check-in. After the sheets were changed I noticed that the bathroom hadn't been cleaned (there were hairs both in the sink and in the bath), the towel was also used that was folded up for us. When I pointed this out to the chamber maid, she started shouting at me. She cleaned the bath only (not the sink and not the lavatory) and I eventually received clean, dry towels. They took these out of our room however the following day before we checked out though. I'm assuming there weren't enough clean ones in the hotel and they were under a lot of pressure.I also didn't get a receipt when I changed some euros to dirhams. I asked for it repeatedly. Luckily I didn't need it in the end as the airport receipt was enough to change the local currency back but I do think it's terrible practice.I'd also like to add that the trip is sold on the basis that the stay in the gite in the mountains has a community feel to it and that's not true at all. There is the language difference: the locals speak their own language, Arabic and French and of course most of us only spoke English. Even if you speak French, it doesn't make that much difference, the gite in the middle of a village, run by 2-3 very competent guys but you have no contact with the villagers unless you pass them on the road. I do feel it was a bit of false advertising by Exodus to emphasise the 'warmth and hospitality' so much when really it's the cook and the guide that you end up talking to only in what is essentially a backpackers' hostel in the mountains.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    Thank you for your valued feedback. We have decided to use a new hotel for all Exodus trips to Marrakech in 2013.

  • Reviewed December 2012
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    Great holiday - not too strenuous so plenty of time to feel like I was getting some 'rest' (albeit whilst walking!). The mountains were peaceful and remote. Just what I needed and no stress of packing everything up every day - a nice change from other holidays I've done.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking back towards the village on the last day in the mountains, seeing the stark contrast between the barren brown mountains against the lush green of the irrigated land in the low sun. Whilst we walked and talked, we passed many of the villagers walking into the 'fields' to work. It looked beautiful and it was humbling to see the locals go about their daily lives.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Leader was good but could perhaps have been more accepting of our questions about what was happening - us Brits like to ask lots of questions about what the plan is for the next day BEFORE it gets to the night before!!However, besides above, Hassan was very modestly and quietly caring, looking out for EVERY member of the group at all times. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you're going in November, don't underestimate how cold it might be in the evenings!! It wasn't ridiculously cold, I admit, but I was still FREEZING in the late afternoons/evenings in the gite - probably due to the temperature change more than anything else. I needed full thermals and as many jumpers as I could squeeze on. I wished I'd taken a warmer jacket (I left it at home thinking it wasn't needed). However, the gite does provide really warm blankets, which you can use any time and I was more than warm enough at night with a 2-3 season sleeping bag plus their blanket. The temp in the day was more variable but there was a definite chill in the air even in the sunshine. Quite pleasant when walking but could be a little chilly when stopped.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't forget that you can leave things in the hotel in Marrakech when you go up into the mountains so if you see anything you want to buy in the souks in the first day, buy it then or you may not find it again when you go back! They are a maze so you probably won't get back to exactly the same stalls....
  • Reviewed November 2012
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    I thought the Atlas Panorama was an awesome experience.It was very interesting to see how others lived and survived in harmony with their surrondings.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Arriving at " The Blue Lake" after a 10 mile trek through some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. The weather was great, clear blue sky and bright sunshine, we could not have asked for better!Also I really enjoyed the picnic(s) thoughout the week, not a hard boiled egg in sight, Its clear that Exodus does NOT DO fast food!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hassan was great, friendly and very knowledgeable.However, I felt he could have made a better effort to motivate us,there were periods of long silences and at times he appeared to isolate himself from the group. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are fit ( I was ) and capable of walking 20 miles over mixed terrain. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    At the gite I think there should be some simple games and books available eg Draughts.chess for use during 'downtime'.
  • Reviewed October 2012
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    A wonderful trip for someone new to walking holidays with a good blend of walks and seeing some of Marrakesh

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Making it to the top of the first walk without too much agonyFinding the local people in and around the gite so friendly and welcoming

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hassan was wonderful, a really dry sense of humour that got us all through any difficult points

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Practice hills before you leave

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I had a fantastic time with a group that really got on together. There was a wonderful spirit of helping each up the harder climbs but none of us was faced with anything we couldn't handle. The gite was basic but comfortable and we had loads of free time to explore Marrakesh independently
  • Reviewed October 2012
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    I had never travelled alone before however met with a warm welcome from the trip leader and the other travellers.  I was a little apprehensive about staying in the gite as it was a little out of my comfort zone, but found the accommodation was of a higher standard than I had anticipated.  The group soon bonded well and our leader was always on hand to answer any questions or to explain the next day's activities.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The welcome we received from the villagers in the mountains.  I can never fail to be inspired from those who do not have the material wealth or development that I am used to in the UK, but who still go out of their way to be hospitable.  The food, both at the gite and during the rest stops on the walks was nothing short of sensational.  The goat herders whom we saw during our walks - our leader told us that they live in the villages but come into the moutains every day to round up the goats and take them to the nearest source of water.  I found this very humbling, to think these people walk into the mountains, sometimes for a few hours, to find their livestock and move them on.  I couldn't imagine that happening in the UK.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was fantastic, approachable, knowledgeable and with a good sense of humour.  He joined in with the group of an evening, even to the point of bringing out a set of drums and teaching us Moroccan songs!  His appreciation of the area and its people was amazing.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Ensure your walking boots are comfortable and in good order - you will be on your feet for many hours!If you go the same time I did - late August - be prepared, it is HOT.  Even in the mountains we were walking in plus 30 degree C temperatures and Marrakech was closer to 50 degrees C.Mingle with your group - you will be amazed who you meet! 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As a first time lone traveller I can highly recommend this trip and Exodus as a company.  Booking the holiday was easy, I was regularly updated as the time for the trip drew nearer, and received a fantastic kit bag!  I am already planning my trip for next August, however may head off somewhere a little cooler...